Never forget where you’re coming from…

11 04 2011

DAY NINETY-SEVEN : Deuternomy 6 v. 1 – 8 v. 20; Luke 11 v. 33 – 54; Psalm 42 v. 1 – 6a

We’ve just had an amazing run of four sell-out nights of our Leyland Methodist MadMob’s (Music and Drama youth theatre group) production, “ESTHER”. The final song was “Never Forget”. God’s people have always needed to remember where they’ve come from, and how faithful God has been to us. Today’s readings are along that theme too, of ‘never forgetting where we’re coming from…’.
Well done, MadMob ! Another outstanding production.

DEUTERONOMY
Love the Lord Your God – The Shema : “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
God wants the commandments to be passed from one generation to another, written upon hearts, talked about constantly, tied as symbols on hands and foreheads, written on doorframes and gates.
The Israelites are reminded that when they inherit the Promised Land, great cities, vineyards, wells, olive groves, they should always remember the Lord, the deliverer from Egyptian slavery.
A further reminder to keep the commands and be faithful to God, who is jealous for Israel’s affection.

The recurring theme is (v. 21 – 25) :
“We were slaves in Egypt, the Lord rescued and freed us.
We saw miraculous signs and wonders.
God provided the commandments to be lived in the Promised Land,
to be righteous and live prosperously.”

Driving out Nations – Mmm, hard passage to read, this, as the Holiness of God insists that the seven large nations are completely obliterated (destroyed totally). It is understandable that they are not to marry / be given in marriage, to avoid a watering down of the holy commitment to the one true God, but it is hard to read that the Hittites, Amorites, etc., are to be killed as the land is possessed.
The Israelites are God’s chosen, and He is faithful towards them (to a thousand generations).
Keeping the commandments will lead to many and varied blessings (land, fruitfulness, health and well-being).
The Israelites are encouraged to remember God’s miraculous provision, when they are tempted to fear the opponents in the land (who appear more numerous and stronger). They are to destroy their idols, and not covet their silver and gold. All unclean items must be destroyed.
“Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God.”

Never Forget – the Israelites are reminded of God’s miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness (to teach that man shall not live by bread alone). The forty years in the wilderness was to ‘humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.’
‘as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.’
The Lord is leading them into a very fruitful, abundant land. They are to ‘praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given…’
Beware the heart which begins to become proud (‘My power and strength have produced this wealth for me’), which forgets all that the Lord has done and given. Destruction will surely follow those who drift and begin to worship false gods.

LUKE
The Lamp of the Body – we are to attend to the quality and brightness of the Light within us (even Christ, Himself, the ‘Light of the world’), and to let that light shine brightly in dark places.

Six Woes – Jesus is a guest, again, at the home of a Pharisee for a meal. The Pharisee is appalled that Jesus hasn’t washed before eating (one of those ‘posh’ / judgemental mealtables). Jesus highlights their hypocrisy again, washing the outside, whilst remaining greedy and wicked within.
The Woes are the opposites of the Blessings (beatitudes etc). The message is that God sees the inside as much as the outside.
1. Woe to the one who is generous with his tithes, but treats others unjustly, and isn’t loving towards God.
2. Woe to the one who craves importance, status, high regard.
3. Woe to those who lead others to sin
(at this point one of the legal experts recognises that Jesus is insulting them)
4. Woe to legal experts who weigh people down with legislation, but never help them out
5. Woe to those who honour the memory of ancestors who killed the prophets – they will be held responsible for murder
6. Woe to the legal experts, again, who distort the truth and lead people astray (including themselves)

Jesus is now targeted by the Pharisees and legal teachers, opposed and besieged with awkward questions, trying to trap Him, trick Him.

PSALM
‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God.
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving.’

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